July 30, 2018: Reloading Journey

By fortuitous circumstance, I have taken the journey into reloading ammunition.  I can’t say that I had a need to reload.  Not even a trifling need, not a passing fancy.  Certainly not a resolute and unyielding need.  A curiosity yes.  My brother has been reloading for years and I have shot the excellent fruits of his labor.  I referred to his cartridges as PPA (Poole Precision Ammo).

The Florida Writer who lives in my neighborhood was getting out of reloading.  He had already started putting equipment on eBay before his wife mentioned it to me on one of her walks around the neighborhood.  A few hours latter I was at their house getting the scoop from the author of the Missing Sticks trilogy.  Paraphrasing the Godfather, “he made me an offer I could not refuse”.  In the week that followed I managed to win eBay auctions for most of the items he had already listed so I had a complete Lee Precision four hole turret press setup for reloading 9mm Luger.

When my brother found out I had the press, he gifted me a set of carbide dies for .40 S&W. My children supplied me with a set for .38 Special/.357 Magnum for my birthday.

The equipment turned out to be the easy part.  Gathering components to be able to load was a little tougher.  The local Bass Pro Shop was woefully lacking in handgun powders, at least any of the four from the Inceptor loading sheets for 9mm and 9mm +P.

There is probably a source in Clearwater but I was loath to drive there and find another empty shelf.  So I went the online order route to get the powder. I split the shipping with my brother who was also looking for some HP-38 while I went with the TiteGroup.  In restrospect I should have gotten a few different powders.

I was initially put off by the separate shipping and HazMat fees for the primers and my brother didn’t need any so to get started with minimal fuss I bought 100 Winchester cases with primers already installed.  I bit extravagant but easy to justify since 3 of the four components would be reusable after the cases were used the first time.

If you haven’t gleened this yet I bought a 100 pack of cartridges and took the bullets out and recovered the powder.  When I eventually bought primers I would reconstitute the cartridges with once-fired brass.  A win-win to get the process going and ease some of my initial trepidation about handling and installing primers.

What motivated me to move forward with a reloading project was the thought of being able to load light for caliber (less recoil) rounds that could be used as a stepping stone for new shooters.  My brother assured me that eventually, economies of scale would make this endeavor cost effective. 

The Inceptor copper polymer matrix bullets have been around since 2015.  Here’s a short history :

2012 Polycase Ammunition founded by Paul Lemke, U.S. Army retired.

September 24, 3013 – Spanish Provisional Patent Application.

2014 Quantum Plastics was created by Quantum Ventures of Michigan.

September 24, 2014 – US Patent filed for by Paul Lemke, Juan Carlos Marin, & Steven Eric Johnson.

January 11, 2015 – AccurateShooter.com has an article about PolyCase Ammunition, a polymer-based composite cartridge cases and injection-molded bullets termed Copper-Polymer (Cu/P). Marketing material used in the article shows both the RNP and ARX bullets but the ARX trademark is not shown (it may not exit yet).

November 30, 2015 – Shooting Times article Paradigm Shift: Polycase ARX Ammo shows Inceptor and ARX trademarks in marketing material.

Quarter IV 2017 – Quantum Ammunition LLC is formed by Quantum Plastics who acquired Intellectual Property and Tools.  Although not specifically stated in the company web site I deduce the IP and tools were Polycase since the Polycase name fades from reviews.

December 2017 – Quantum Ammunition announces Patent No. US 9,841,260 for the ARX and similar projectiles. There is nothing older that this post on the current Inceptorammo.com website. The polycaseammo.com website is inactive. 

Once I traced through the history the pieces aligned because I had see the Polycase name associated with Inceptor and ARX.  Quantum Ammunition kept the trademark ARX which was also being promoted by Ruger and branded all the projectiles as Inceptor. 

For handgun calibers there are the ARX (Advanced Rotation eXtreme) for personal protection and the RNP (Round Nose Precision) for target practice.  These rounds are also frangible which makes them safer than traditional bullets for steel targets. 

According to the Inceptorammo web site there are six distributers of the bullets.  MidwayUSA being one.  I purchased a box of 500 RNP 65 Grain for 9mm Luger.  The bullets measured from 61.4 to 63.7 grains on my made in China Frankford Arsenal digital scale.  Most being in the 61.8 to 62.4.  I didn’t chart out the numbers by weight but I will admit I was a little surprised by the spread.     But I was also surprised by the spread of the factory Winchester 115 grain jacked round nose which ranged from 113.5 to 114.9 just in a 10 round sample. 

The journey is as much about the education as producing a working cartridge.  The second edition of Modern Reloading by Richard Lee was a course in itself.  I read the first nine chapters before even setting up the press. 

Since Spectrum was converting to all digital it made an obsolete CRT TV in the den useless so I sent it to the electronics recycle and claimed the space in the cabinet for the reloading equipment.  It’s got doors to equipment and components are hidden when not in use, a contributor to domestic tranquility. 

One of the areas I didn’t research before purchasing the powder was understanding the burn rate of various powders.  I was looking at the economics instead of the versatility.  One of the points of reloading is to be able to tune ammunition to your gun so limiting yourself to one powder may not produce the results you want. 

Unless you have been given a formula for a cartridge that performs in your gun and you are just going to replicate it, you need to realize initially, reloading is not being done for the economy.  It is a educational journey that yields tangible and useful results.  It also includes risk.  You are already participating in an activity that involves risk.  When you self produce the ammunition you are using, you are assuming more of the risk. 

You become responsible to ensure the round you just loaded and fired has a sufficient powder charge to move the bullet out of the barrel and that the next round doesn’t have a double charge of powder.  A double charge after a squib is going to be a bad day. 

The process turns out not to be overly complex and there are readily available resources for education and assistance.    Research the products available so you know the MSRP for comparison.  Talk to shooters and hunters you know.  You may find someone who is not active any more and willing to sell equipment and components at discounted prices. 

The initial cost for components and equipment may seem daunting but some patience and research will yield a working solution.  Several thousand cartridges later you may have an economical one too. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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